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News Turkey, Iraq, Syria to initiate water talks by establishing a water institute

Turkey, Syria and Iraq have decided to bury the hatchet over water issues and cooperate by establishing a water institute that will consist of 18 water experts from each country to work toward the solution of water-related problems among the three. This institute will conduct its studies at the facilities of Turkey's Atatürk Dam, the biggest in the country, and plans to develop projects for the fair and effective use of trans-border water resources. This rapprochement among the three countries has led to acceleration of the construction of the Ilısu and Asi dams. Until several years ago, international strategists would argue that a war over water resources would inevitably erupt in the Middle East. But the recent agreement among Turkey, Syria and Iraq seems to discredit this thesis. Turkey had hinted at changing its water policy during the World Water Congress, held in Antalya in March 2007. Turkey adopted a fair share model for the surface waters that leave its borders and suggested that the problems it had with Syria, Iraq, Iran, Bulgaria, Georgia and Greece over water management should be solved through bilateral talks. Turkey had made clear at the time that it did not want third parties to get involved in the settlement of water issues.

The costs of the institute's work will be covered by Turkey, and its report will be published on April 15. The cooperation between three countries will be presented as case study at the 5th World Water Forum to be held in İstanbul in 2009.

Environment and Forestry Minister Eroğlu, speaking to Today's Zaman, said: "No war over water resources will erupt in the region. Instead of having problems over water with our neighbors, we prefer developing joint projects. Contrary to what some people claim, a war over water resources in this region won't emerge, though people may always find reasons to wage wars. We believe that the water resources in the region can be effectively used to satisfy its water needs. However, we must develop joint projects for their effective use."

Contact information n/a
News type Inbrief
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Source of information Today's Zaman
Geographical coverage Turkey, Iraq, Syria
News date 14/04/2008
Working language(s) ENGLISH